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No One Needs This Much Stress, but You Want it Anyway

Movie Title: Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
Spoilers: none

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I was not in a worked-up frenzy to see Tyler Perry's latest creation, starring Louis Gossett Jr., Janet Jackson, and Cicely Tyson in Why Did I Get Married Too? I held out no real hope for what started out as a play and became a movie about bad marriages. My expectations were defied.

Beautiful oceanfront property...black upscale couples making you laugh and share in the heated drama of their well-off lives, as they hang out and “one-up” each other in the (sometimes) funniest of ways...I had no idea I would be so thoroughly entertained.

No one sets out to watch a movie about bad marriages anymore than they plan to go through them...or is that true? It's been a long time since The Brady Bunch era, and the “Honey, I'm Home!” family was a myth even back then. That marriage isn't rosy is no revelation, but an ethnic take on the struggles of cohabitation can provide us with another perspective. In that vein, Tyler Perry's take on the modern, upper-class African-American family is of particular interest.

This is not the first time Perry has demonstrated the uncanny ability to make soap opera-style spats interesting to a large, diverse audience. How often is that done, I ask you? And how often is it done well?

The progress of the plot is as subtle as the movement of the short hand on a wind-up clock. You can watch it, but you can't quite see it move. You start off to a slow beginning – light on laughs, but heavy on drama – the painful kind found in marriages on the rocks, with more “dirty laundry” aired than your local Washeteria. You shouldn't want to know more, but strangely enough, you do. You eat up the jealousy, the attitudes, the pressure cooker tension in every room and every scene.

These are men and women who have made mistakes. They drink beer and enjoy the beautiful beach, but even it isn't enough to make them take their minds off the mounting problems at home. These guys are cool. Before you know it, you are appreciating those overused football analogies and that worn slogan to fish for approval “know what I'm saying?” in favor of the lively characters who use them.

Then, the drama is fed back in to offset the humor, like the slight turning of a knob...just a little movement to the left makes the water a lot hotter. But it's the fires in marriages burning to the ground that can't be put out. And they all start as small and floating embers, little but hot. Then comes the brush fire.

Why Did I Get Married Too? is the continuation of Why Did I Get Married? (2007), the story of four couples with misaligned marriages. These eight friends are at each other’s throats. The title doesn't seem to do the movie justice, as I see it. Something like “The Will to Work Things Out” might have gone further and would have been more descriptive.

Do you agree with a movie that says marriage is this cutthroat of a business? Is it right to say that obtaining a good marriage is a question of being able to live with “dirt” you find on your partner through the years? Believe what you want, but please tell me why this tastes so refreshing. I have no idea why.

“I don't want to control him. I just want him to do what I say.” Is that really an odd thing for a wife to say of her husband? Of course, it isn't. She's joking, but also serious. You knew that the moment you read it or heard it.

Do all men check their cell phone messages quickly, by pulling the screen close to them and then putting the phone face down on the table again? How many men will give their wives the password to their voicemails? How many wives will get this angry if their husbands refuse to do so? And marriage is about trust, right? Come again?!

The wives gather around and chatter like hens...jealous, angry, bitchy (sometimes downright obnoxious)...hens. They read books on relationships and hang on their every word. The men aren't so high maintenance, but it's their pride that tends to get in the way. It's amazing we men have as few knock-down-drag-outs as we do.

If BET had a remake of Couple's Retreat, this would be it, remade with a family-sized serving of comedic wit and marital wisdom for Tyler Perry fans—with the tendency to make you think back to when you actually cared to try and save your last marriage before that sinking ship went under. Too late now, but it does bring back memories.

This was a great movie. A rather laborious-to-believe and melodramatic ending only moderately detracts from Perry's success in creating an animal that is like few in the cinematic kingdom.

(JH)

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Grade: A- (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG-13 (for intense drama and adult situations)
Director: Tyler Perry
Summary: Four couples reunite for their annual vacation in order to socialize and to spend time analyzing their marriages.
Starring: Tyler Perry "Terry," Janet Jackson "Patricia," Jill Scott "Sheila," Sharon Leal "Dianne," Malik Yoba "Gavin," Richard T. Jones "Mike," Tasha Smith "Angela," Lamman Rucker "Troy," Michael Jai White "Marcus," Louis Gossett Jr. "Porter," Cicely Tyson "Ola"   
Genre: Drama / Comedy
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